Ask the Readers: Give Your Pace Bowling Coaching Advice

We get many coaching questions emailed to us here at PitchVision Academy. Today, in the spirit of rebuilding community, I want to ask for your advice for a fast bowler.

The question comes from long time reader and podcast listener Alek, and it’s all to do with the position of the back foot.

So, over to Alek for more explanation:


“Through previous discussions on the show and the website, we have established that side on bowlers have the potential, at least in theory, to bowl quicker that front on bowlers due to the greater hip rotation that occurs from a side on position.


Recently I was having a discussion with a friend who mentioned the back foot position of Jeff Thomson, who instead of having his back foot parallel to the crease, had it at an angle pointing more towards mid-on.

By manipulating the angle of the back foot, I am assuming it is possible to allow your hips a greater degree of rotation, above the standard 90 degrees if your back foot and hips are parallel to the crease.

Considering that some of the really quick baseball pitchers rotate their hips up to 135 degrees, can fast bowlers take advantage of greater hip rotation in order to bowl faster?

If in theory side on bowlers are quicker due to the degree of hip rotation, can they bowl even quicker by manipulating their hips to increase their hip rotation?”

I think it’s a great question, and one I am not instantly able to answer. That means I want to tap into the mind of the collective power of the PitchVision Academy readers to answer the problem.

So, what do you think?

Leave a comment and join the discussion. 

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Hi Alek,

This question was tailor made for Ian so I am going to leave him to deal with the technical side... leaving me with the boring stuff you probably do not want to hear Laughing out loud

Firstly, your question is not that simple; bearing in mind that we are all built differently. Personally, I would have preferred that you had not compared pace bowling with pitching. Although you can draw comparisons in certain aspects of the two disciplines, they really are totally different. The main difference, I guess, is that the pitcher does not have a run up... or bound... and, therefore, the force transferred at front foot contact is incomparable.

Another BIG difference is in shoulder/hip separation. Although slight separation can be tolerated by the body in pace bowling, again due to the force, we aim to keep it to the minimum... if not zero. This also goes for the long stride; there is an 'optimum' angle.

OK, having said all that, only a few pitchers are actually flexible enough to achieve the kind of range of motion you are talking about and to be honest, this is even rarer in pace bowlers. The kind of movement you are talking about is practically balletic and, although I am not adverse to cricket players having ballet lessons as part of their training, I am not sure this would go down too well! Eye-wink

In answer to your question, I am going to go for a 'reserved' "No". Not so much that it would not increase pace, although the movement at the hip has more emphasis on the thrust in the pace bowler, but purely due to the body's need for injury prevention, especially the spine.

As for over rotation of the back foot, taking the average flexibility of the average pace bowler, you would probably find the balls heading down towards fine leg.

Here's a pace bowler with large hip/shoulder separation - almost 90 degrees in the first picture. Not sure he's one to try and copy though!

Alek we have spoken on here before and I know you are extremely keen on pace bowling.

You bring up a massively interesting area of pace bowling - notably the function the hips play in generating pace in the body. SOMAX have produced some amazing research into baseball pitchers showing how shoulder/hip separation is a vital component in generating power. This is because of the force multiplier from the hips to the body's external movements - a flexible, faster hip movement leading the top half of the body, can increase the speed of the ball. A 1 mph increase in hip speed can increase the speed at the hand by up to 10 mph. It depends on many factors, not the smallest of which is sequencing of the movements.

There is a slingshot effect going on to create arm speed and the centre of the body (hips) plays a very big role in how fast a bowler might be able to bowl.

It can be an over-technical area to many people so we have to be careful, but simply put, a flexible hip driven ahead of the bowling shoulder can have an improvement in ball speed. I actively encourage a shoulder hip separation in the action and coach this as a matter of course. I have had no reported incidences of injury during the past 18 years on this - only increased ball speeds of bowlers.

The closest sport to pace bowling is javelin throwing and the base of the body is virtually identical to a fast bowler's, if they correctly use their body.

I include this clip of England academy all rounder, Catherine Dalton showing a move known as the drop step, front foot block which is at the heart of generating pace. You will see the shoulder hip separation in this short drill work.

Two years ago Cath bowled at 53 mph and now she can hit 75 mph and is closing in on being the world's fastest female bowler. The hip drive and shoulder hip separation has been the drill work we have focused on, and the results are pretty spectacular.

Out of interest, Malinga's action is really great. The arm pull creates a round arm release but he has some great mechanics. I would rather a bowler be round arm than far too high. The rule of thumb for the arm height for pace is "any hour before midnight, but not a minute past." Try to release above your own bowling hip to be 'perfect'.

You are correct to say that a sideways back foot gives a bowler more chance to hip drive than a front on bowler. Interestingly Tait, the world's fastest bowler and Jeff Thomson, are both PAST sideways.

Actually, Malinga's s/h separation is not as great as it looks. The illusion is created by shoulder extension. However, it is possibly beyond the 30 degree range I would generally consider acceptable, but not much.

This does not mean you should not bowl pace with a greater degree of separation but I, being me, really would have to suggest that it is not practised unless under supervision. S/h separation is not the only factor to be considered with injury potential and if all else is equal, and you have the mobility why not.

I am more cautious than Ian because, basically, whenever he coaches somebody to bowl with this action, he is present! Not every bowler has the benefit of a coach with his experience and knowledge to ensure, not only, that the movement pattern follows the correct sequence, but also that movement that should not occur is not occurring.

So, just to be the thorn in Ian's side... I would still say, don't try it unless you, or your coach, knows what you are doing!

However, you can happily practise the back foot contact without risk of injury... but as I said earlier, make sure you are able to laterally rotate sufficiently at the hip or you will not be facing the right way. Although most males have greater issues with medial rotation rather than lateral rotation.

Liz.. Malinga's shoulder hip sep is around 85%. I have the footage and it has been measured.

In terms of shoulder hip sep being 'safe' it is indeed a natural move as the hips and shoulders are designed to move apart (simple walking involves a shoulder hip separation) and if you sit down whilst turning slowly to the side, you can easily separate shoulder hips by up to 90 degrees without too much issue.

I don't think it is actually possible to bowl fast WITHOUT separating hips and shoulders. Javelin throwers have huge hip shoulder separations.

I disagree Liz, that the hip shoulder sep CAUSES injury (I know you mention it as injury potential, but any movement is). What can cause injury is when bowlers 'crunch' their non bowling side to the off, while attempting to 'brush their ear' - a move more likely to increase the chances of stress fracture. A 'slingy' style of action appears to be far safer as the ball is bowled from the same side of the body as the ball is. Problems occur when the ball is bowled from close to or past the head.

When a boxer throws a punch, the shoulder and hip separate to power the force into the fist. This is the basis of many martial arts, notably the 'brutal double hip system'.

If you need any more proof that shoulder hips are important in creating power safely, just look at a golfer, baseball batter, a footballer shooting or even a swimmer. It is virtually impossible to create any meaningful thrust without the shoulders and hips separating. And the fuller, the better.

I think you will probably find that our different views stem from our different research. There is also a subconscious desire to read into the areas we are interested in... you, as a pace bowling coach [in this instance] into speed/increasing pace... me, as a soft tissue specialist [in this instance] into injury prevention.

For instance, take the Conference of Science, Medicine & Coaching in Cricket in Australia last year. The research that came out of it was voluminous. However, my reading went something like:

Links between Physiotherapy Measures and Physical Performance Measures in
Australian First Class Cricketers
Kevin Sims and Aaron Kellett
Sport Science Sport Medicine Unit, Cricket Australia Centre of Excellence, Brisbane

Kinematic Correlates of Lumbar Spine Loading in Fast Bowling
René E.D. Ferdinands, Max Stuelcken, Andy Greene, Peter Sinclair, Richard Smith
Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney

The Influence of Batting Handedness on Rates of Shoulder Counter-Rotation
in Cricket Fast Bowlers
Wayne Spratford, Chris McCosker, Nadine Morrison and Rian Crowther
Biomechanics and Performance Analysis, Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra
Sport Science Sport Medicine Unit, Cricket Australia Centre of Excellence, Brisbane

Back Injuries in Pace Bowlers – An Under-use Injury?
Graeme Nuttridge - PhysioSouth, Christchurch, and University of Otago, Dunedin and Peter Milburn - Griffith University, Gold Coast

...etc, and to be honest, I probably paid lip service to a lot of the research that was out of my specialism.

However, I can only talk about my specialism. I am not saying that anything you believe is wrong... I have seen the results! The sad fact is, notwithstanding the great results you can and have produced, I have also seen the results of poor technique and poor coaching. I don't think that separation is the cause of injury, but it is a factor, although I am loath to suggest anything greater than 30-35 degrees, unless properly conditioned. It is not necessarily the separation itself but what happens during the separation and if performed incorrectly, the incidence of other factors such as counter-rotation, hyper-flexion etc.

I am afraid we will have to agree to disagree on this one Ian. MY stance will always be, "...don't try it unless you, or your coach, knows what you are doing!" However, that does not mean that I think you should not be taking another. Smiling

I'm sort of halfway between you both Ian and Liz.

My question is a follow up though - some very good pitchers have extraordinary t-spine mobility. They are genetic outliers who are highly trained. Can we assume that very fast bowlers also have this genetic/training advantage of hypermobility which creates such a large separation?

Well, it is true that genetics plays a great part... a large proportion of the best grassroots wrist spin bowlers are dyspraxic to some extent!

I guess halfway between us is the best place to be, Ian sees such great results but I think he underestimates his involvement. At the other end of the spectrum, I only see the ones that have gone wrong! The theory is sound, it is just that the implementation can sometimes be off. Players know what they need to do and really believe they are doing it. It is not until we show them on camera that they see it is not quite what they should be doing. Unfortunately, by the time they get to me, there is quite often, quite a lot of pain involved. However, I have never seen anybody in the clinic who has a good coach. Eye-wink

As, I said, genetics does play a part... no doubt! The question is, how much. Take gymnasts or ballet dancers. The clubs and schools are full of willing, enthusiastic youngsters, but why do those who exceed do so? The more flexible will obviously find it easier, although still hard and tortuous, and they will be able to hold positions longer. These are the ones who make it to the top but is this because they have been trained, or is this due to natural selection... the not so flexible falling by the wayside.

The same with these pitchers. Would they be at the top of their field if they had average range of movement? Of course, you can improve what you have but only so much. Some people can do the splits without training, others will never do so. Basically, you can only push your body so much beyond its natural flexibility.

Having said this, you will always find the very few who buck the trend. These are the people we should be researching.

Out of curiosity David, which research papers from the Australian Conference did you reach for first?

Thanks for the replies guys, some interesting reading. I think my question was meant to push the boundaries a bit further when it comes to fast bowling, beyond hip/shoulder separation. My thinking behind this was what would be the effect on pace if we have a bowler that can achieve 90 degree hip shoulder/separation and in that action, we manipulate the hips to produce additional rotation to the action. I'd be very interested to see what would be the result of that extra hip momentum on fast bowling speed.

Jeff Thomson was one that did have very good hip/shoulder rotation, but his back foot position allowed for additional rotation of the hips. His back foot is very open. This is a very good image:

I think we can learn from baseball pitchers. The SOMAX analysis are very interesting, which is what sparked my original interest on this topic some time ago.

I think there is room for research on this topic from a fast bowling perspective. Maybe this is Ian's next project.


You posted an article a couple of weeks ago about T spine mobility. I found that very interesting. I think that is a very important area when it comes to hip/shoulder separation and there is definitely room for incorporating such exercises/movements in a fast bowlers fitness program.

Liz - I fully understand where you are coming from.

It is only in the last few months that I have had the time to do a bit of research and thinking. I suspect that some of my work may have been too far ahead of the game for the staid (sedate, respectable, and unadventurous) ECB. Being a pioneer is not easy. (It took Edison over 1200 experiments before he got the first light bulb to work in 1879!).

So I am attempting to introduce a measurable fast bowling scale modestly called The Pont Scale (TPS).

I believe it is possible to document all the points on TPS (using some technical input from research done in Aus and NZ) in one ‘structure’. I have an idea about how to document the TPS and will start in the next few weeks as we know all the fine detail/techniques of the TPS. Although the fine detail/ techniques will need to be analysed, this is not the issue.

To me the issue is to have a way of representing the fine detail/techniques of the TPS in a way which is understandable to a sceptical audience. Language is a major barrier. O As an example, let’s take the back lift of batting.

• Lara’s back lift came down with icicles on it
• Some back lifts point to fine leg
• Some to the w/k
• Others to first or second slip
• Some to third man and others to gully
• Others do not have a back lift of any significance like Tendulkar.

What then is the definitive back lift? There is not one definitive back lift. There is not one definitive way of holding a cricket bat. Eoin Morgan holds the bat at the bottom of the handle with both hands together. Look at Morgan’s stance – his pads are almost parallel with the pitch. The authors of the MCC batting manual must be suffering from apoplexy when they see him bat. Morgan has scored two test hundreds and has clearly passed the Andy Flower test!

Bowling, as with batting does not have ‘definitives’. The batting or bowling techniques are dependent on the physiology, maturity/experience etc of the player. We are not even looking for guidelines. I strongly suspect what we are looking for are benchmarks.
The online Oxford English Dictionary (OED) gives the first (of several) definitions of the meaning of benchmark as:

• Noun: a standard or point of reference against which things may be compared:
For this definition, the OED gives the example:

• The pay settlement will set a benchmark for other employers and workers.
Cricketing examples of the meaning would be:

• Brett Lee’s fast bowling techniques will be our benchmark (point of reference) for comparing other fast bowlers’ techniques.

• James Anderson’s swing bowling techniques will be the bench mark for comparing other swing bowlers.

(The OED also gives verb usage and meaning of benchmark).

To be able to compare (and contrast) you need a (TPS-like) scale. We are not comparing like with like techniques - that would mean there are ‘definitives’ which there are not. We are comparing (and contrasting) similar with similar techniques on a (TPS) scale with allows for some degree of variability depending on the bowlers physiology, experience, age etc etc.

You believe passionately in what you are doing. This is a strength and also a weakness. We all have passions and the language we use when talking about the passion moves from the ‘objective’ to the ‘subjective’. This sets us up to be knocked down by someone who does not have the passion or insights or knowledge or has entrenched positions or vested interests.

I know from bitter academic battles that it is better to use language that is neutral [no good or bad and minimal value judgements] and well defined words taken from an established reference like the OED. Then when you are attacked you point out that the words you are using and their meanings are taken from the most widely respected dictionary in the English language. The OED approach gives some objectivity to a case/course. As soon as arguments become subjective and laden with value judgments, we are all on thin ice and fall through.

What are we trying to do? We need objectives and aims and goals. We have to make any objectives, aims and goals measurable. (Have you come across the acronym SMART?) Any publication or presentation has to have measurable content (a la Kelvin). An example title comes to mind which is not written in stone. Other than cave carvings nothing is written in stone. Everything is subject to review and change. An example title for the objectives might be:

“Maximising performance and efficiency outcomes of fast bowlers in cricket, by benchmarking and the implementation of our current understanding of best practice fast bowling techniques. An evidence-based review.” This is what I am about to embark on.

As much as possible of the supporting material has to be evidence based from cricket and other sports e.g. Olympics and athletics world records, the use of new/better techniques and the use of new/better materials or psychological training.

We have to be very careful to separate out what is wanted (i.e. the maximising of performance and efficiency) as the requirement from how the requirement is achieved (training, drills, techniques etc).

Some research needs to be done. I need to build a database of names of fast bowlers who have changed their actions in (say) the last 5/6 years (even 10 is that is feasible). Then put together a questionnaire (a lot more sophisticated than a tick list) for them to complete; then summarise the data (anonymously if necessary) to build the evidence base.

To present this case, a number of things other than fast bowling techniques, have to be unpicked and the overall context understood. I need to do more research on Ferdinands et al. ECB did two research studies out of 114 citations in Ferdinands paper. Why so little? Is there a historical barrier due to:

• Social history? Batsmen went to Charterhouse or Winchester and fast bowlers came from down the coalmines of Yorkshire or Derbyshire (I know about the private schools and coalmines of the latter).

• The aesthetics of batting? There is an aesthetic about batting, whereas fast bowling is about blood sweat and tears. If a survey were carried of what spectators wanted from a ‘good’ day’s cricket it would be lots of sixes and sparkling hundreds.

• Culture? More books, stories and poems have been written on cricket than any other sport. This does, of course, include the days of the Empire.

• The lack of MCC/ECB decision makers having, historically, a background in science, technology and engineering? I suspect, if we did a survey of the decision makers/chairmen of the county boards many would be businessmen, with a private education. It would certainly have been the case in the 1960s/1970s.

• MCC/ECB might just be weighed down with the baggage of the past. My manuals are 15 years out of date. Hence The Fast Bowler;s Bible being so well recieved.

There is much anecdotal evidence. Below is an extract from the Introduction of an article called “CRICKET BOWLING: A TWO-SEGMENT LAGRANGIAN MODEL” by R. E. D. Ferdinands, K. A. Broughan and H. Round, Departments of Physics & Electronic Engineering and Mathematics, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand

INTRODUCTION: The function of bowling in cricket is to deliver the ball to the batter. In the majority of deliveries, the ball bounces once off the ground. The laws of cricket specify that any straightening of the bowling arm must occur well before the time of ball release. The basic bowling action can be described as a series of sequential steps. To produce successful bowlers, it is imperative that correct bowling technique is taught at a
young age. However, much of the available instruction in this area is subjective, based
largely on the experiences of successful past bowlers. Previous bio-mechanical research in bowling has been largely confined to the analysis of kinematic data. In this paper, a forward solution model of the bowling arm is developed which allows a range of joint torques and initial arm positions to be specified to determine which combination of ball speed and arm angle at release will land a ball on a predetermined position on the pitch.

This subjective anecdotal evidence reminds me of the split between amateur and professional. If cricket had been a profession (like law, accountancy, medicine etc) it would have been documented not passed down in anecdote and village folk-law. For the amateur anecdote was good enough but not if you wanted to make cricket a serious professional game. I wonder is this amateur ‘ethos’ still stalks the corridors of Lords?

Just exploring ideas.

The four tent pegs are crucial. They capture the centre of gravity and balance (when everything is in equilibrium) a few frames before the ball is released. We want to convey the message of motion and acceleration. Maybe the four tent pages could be labelled in the picture as:

Energy (front leg bracing) E
Momentum (bowling arm) M
Power (front arm) P
Work (back leg) W

WEMP is part of the two segment model mentioned above written by Ferdinands. WEMP for fast bowlers and wimp for slow bowlers

I wonder about the impact of 20-20 on fast bowling. To bowl fast (90+) requires a lot of effort over a longish period of time even if you are a natural athlete. Modern youth requires instant satisfaction.

So as you can see Liz I am very aware of developing this whole concept involving shoulder hip separation plus the other factors that create power in the human body. The TPS may well identify just where a bowler needs to do his work to become more efficient as well as be able to measure different bowlers and compare them.

It's been a year or two in the making but I feel I have got to the stage that I can get something published with the academic assistance of a few good people Smiling

LIZ - with specific regard to the shoulder hip separation, I don't actually coach that per se, but rather encourage a 'stretch reflex' so the hips lead into the release of the ball. I encourage (from viewed behind) the bowlers arm to be straight back to camera, or as I call it "grabbing the sightscreen". This ensures a correct shoulder alignment into front foot impact and the natural position of Tent Peg Two, which is a star shape. The hips would then 'fire' and begin the drive to ball release ahead of the shoulder. Dependent upon flexibility of the bowler this will be UP TO 90 degrees, probably far less. In reality, the size of the separation may be less important than the speed of the hip drive we need to create a 'whip' effect. And of course the sequencing of that hip drive is equally vital.

ALEK - you have always shown a great deal of interest in this subject. We known from other power generation sports that the RANGE of motion is a key component in generating speed. You ask specifically about the 90 degree SEPARATION, which would clearly give you a large range of motion, but as you will know from the Somax interpretation of power generation we also have to consider SPEED of movement, SEQUENCING of that movement and ALIGNMENT of that movement (acronym RSSSA). I feel the shoulder hip sep is a natural movement but one that can be worked on to develop more speed safely.

DAVID - I know that javelin throwers work on their T-spine mobility. I have spent a few years working with javelin techniques and world-class coaches who have specific exercises and training regimes designed to be 'fit for purpose'. I truly believe that we are going towards specific training regimes for fast bowling, which we simply do not have at this time.

The reason I believe we don't have the right training for fast bowling is that S&C has not identified (or does not have the input from the scientific community) on identifying what parts of the action/body are vital in generating pace in the first place. Surely speed should be the most important factor in pace bowling if we are to produce ever faster bowlers? Therefore it is only by realising what does what in the action that leads us to how to train correctly for that.

The ECB in particular has been massively backwards at reviewing this entire area of pace. I feel it is because cricket focuses exclusively on outcomes rather than the processes that LEAD to those outcomes. A few papers on injury prevention here and there are not really going to help us very much I'm afraid. Troy Cooley spent much of his tenure at the ECB attempting to prevent injuries rather than finding ways to bowl faster or indeed realise what generates pace in the first place. Some may feel it is desirable to discover how to strengthen the body to keep a fast bowler more free from breakdown, but the field of power and speed generation is not high on the agenda for coaches or boards! It is no wonder why bowlers are not really bowling any faster than Larwood all those years ago despite a plethora of S&C coaches, nutritionists, psychologists yada yada.

It also explains why commentators and coaches always fall back on 'making a bowler stronger' or 'getting them into the gym' to become a better bowler. This of course makes little sense as we know, except it is desirable to be stronger and healthier, so no one can really complain.

The issue I have is the ECB in particular, and this also means the counties, have focused SO MUCH on fitness that skill coaching has been overlooked - and indeed replaced. Some junior county are group sessions are mostly SAQ, fast feet rope ladders stuff, medicine ball work and mini trampoline stuff etc. Little skill coaching now happens as coaches substitute teaching for training. I know for a fact that Sussex have told one of the age group parents, that they will be choosing squads based on fitness rather than cricket skills.

Where we need to get to is that S&C is a FUNCTION of cricket and not a substitute for cricket. The danger is that the ECB and the counties have now lost sight of coaching skills. I know this as many of the 11-15 year olds I see have little skills knowledge and the parents don't know where they should go for cricket coaching.

The answer is to give S&C a specific function - and that is to train the body for the movements it will need to perform the specific skills needed for each discipline and not smother cricket inadvertently. We have yet to decipher what the body does in the act of those skill applications and with regard to fast bowling, we are infants.

My hope and personal aim is to help unravel those mysteries to which ALEK alludes and all of coaching needs to know if we are to develop fast bowlers.

I agree with Liz it has to be done safely, but that is a given anyway.

Ian, I can only agree with you that S&C is vital but as a support function for fast bowling coaching, not a replacement.

Gyms in the US that focus on baseball all have a pitching (ie. technical) coach on the staff and areas where pitchers can practice pitching alongside the weights. Can you imagine a gym here in the UK that has a fast bowling coach and a net? I can't.

Personally I think t-spine and hip mobility are crucial to the fast bowler for performance AND injury prevention. Heck, they are crucial to everyone!


i know your methods and ideas are very good to help fast bowlers, but have you got many bowlers you are training with to bowl avoid 145kph+? So other people can see your training style works.

I'm not sure that is the standard we should be setting to judge a coaches ability. Surely the test should be "how reliably can a coach make significant improvements in speed to a player?"

Fact is most players will not achieve 90mph speeds for a wide range of reasons. Not all of them are within the control of a single coach. However the vast majority can improve pace given the right coaching.

Hi! Ian I'm from India, 17 years old,I bought your book(THE FAST BOWLER'S BIBLE) 3 months ago. I'm a front on bowler before following your book I was an average bowler bowling between 115-120 kph.But now after following,practicing and adopting your advice on pitch vision and in your book i have started to implement drop step front foot block technique and started to use my non bowling arm to quite good effect.Now I'm a different bowler,bowling 125-130 kph. Your advice on alignment is very effective, now I'm consistent as well.
My question to you is that, should I remodel my action from front on to side on to get that hip drive for extra pace?Like any other cricketer even my dream is to play for my nation.So, Ian please do reply.

DEV - you will find it almost impossible to change your back foot position to sideways. You might be able to achieve a midway compromise but you should always go with your back foot position that is natural.

Catherine Dalton, my top student, is also a front on bowler and has increased her speed almost 30 kph in two years.

It is perfectly possible to bowl good speeds from a front on back foot impact (140 kph plus).

Whilst it is true you get more hip drive (RANGE) from sideways back foot landing, there are many other factors that go together to make pace possible. One thing in isolation is not just the entire answer Smiling

Great reading your comments as always Ian. Infact it is with this concept of hip speed referred in the SOMAX research that the back foot position of Thomson intrigued me. Surely with greater range of motion for the hip, you could in theory increase the speed of the hip movement with the added momentum. This is all theoretical but I feel you are probably best equipped to head this research from a cricket perspective and see practical results. Sounds like you definitely have another fast bowling book or two in you, put me down for a per-order.

I saw the clip of the new tent peg example, this is definitely much better, but I still feel it could be improved by adding hip-shoulder separation. At tent peg 2, ideally you would want the right heel to turn out prior to front food contact, and in that respect on front foot impact you have visible separation with the hips facing forward and the shoulder pointing back. This is where T spine mobility comes in, in order to sustain and improve this part of the tent peg. That would make it a more rounded drill, encompassing the drop step, hip/shoulder separation, chest drive, drive of the right knee, etc.

ALEK - you are quite right to focus on the heel turn out or 'flare' out just prior to front foot impact. In reality this happens due to the momentum of the body through the action and stretch of the front leg prior to FF impact (Tent Peg 2). That movement creates what is a 'pre-delivery' hip drive or as we are now calling it, an early shoulder hip separation. This is what Brett Lee does so fabulously well.

And then as you say the other components such as front foot block, drop step, etc etc all stack up to create the ball speed in Tent Peg 3, or release of the ball.

Just out of curiousity. Do other people her find this subject interesting? I ask because having devoted much of my coaching life in an attempt to unravel the mysteries of how pace is generated, it can be easy to become obsessed. I do not come across any other coaches who work with my stuff (other than those who have become exponents of the ABSAT methodology I use) so I am always wary of discussing speed generation in too deep a way.

If you want to really confuse any cricket coach, just ask them to explain how to bowl faster or where pace comes from, and listen to whatever they say. You are likely to get some genuine urban myths and a whole bunch of untruths. Is it any wonder we have turned to the gym and fitness, as the solution to cover these inadequacies?

Perhaps this is an opportunity to redefine pace bowling and how to coach it. That would certainly send me to retirement, when that time comes, a happy man Smiling

I'm 13 and bowl almost at 60mph. I'm trying to increase my pace to 70mph by the start of the next season. Any tips?

On this topic Ian, Cricket Australia published their review of the Test team. In the section on what areas we need to improve in our bowling the following were mentioned:

For bowling
— Building pressure
— Bowling to an agreed plan
— Spin bowling and captaincy of spin bowling
— Swing bowling, including generating reverse swing

Incidentally, no mention on generating speed or working to develop really quick fast bowlers. So you are very much right when you say this area is being neglected by the authorities and coaches and much under-analysed in cricket, even at the top level.

The other thing I noticed today while watching the cricket is that bowlers like Anderson and Bresnan have a shorter delivery stride than someone like Tait or Lee. Obviously you want to have "fast feet" between back foot and front foot impact to more efficiently transfer the momentum and avoid any leaks. But I suspect that with a shorter delivery stride you really don't allow your top half to properly stretch or get that delayed bowling arm you talk about in the book. The SOMAX analysis of the baseball pitchers refer to stride angles and I suspect these areas are closely related and probably another thing worth investigating in regards to generating pace.

ALEK _ I too read the report from CA and am never surprised how they habitually fail to realise that you can create fast bowlers. The sad fact is that everything that is green & gold does not always glitter, and this is never more true when it comes to DEVELOPING pace bowlers.

The second point about the size of delivery stride is a good one. Shoaib Akthar said to me once if his stride was TOO big he felt he could get out of the crease (known as the 'bucket' stride in javelin throwing. If the base is too narrow, it is harder to 'set' yourself and base to create a really stable platform to block and lock against.

There are very many things relevant to generating speed and as we are identifying, the base (feet, legs and hips) create the environment for the ball to be catapulted out of the hand.

Why all the fastest bowlers jeff thomson,brett lee,shoaib akhtar,michael holding,shaun tait are side on? ian could you please explain?even front on bowlers get shoulder hip separation. and most of the side on bowlers close their action by landing their front foot across the body.why is it that they are quicker than the front on bowlers?please ian explain.

Anybody know how Steyn gets so much pace without using the drop step front foot block?


Steyn is regarded a front on/semi bowler (it has varied over the years and I have seen him sometimes almost sideways with back foot) and relies far more on ground speed as such than a classic side ways planted quickie does.

The rule is the more front on you are, the more important your ground speed is for generating pace. His back foot to front foot impact is RAPID. There is very little delay on the back foot so he effectively gets into his action quickly and uses this momentum well.

Dale does lock out his front leg and does not really create much of a shoulder hip separation - but he has fast hips. Dale's action is not perfect by any means but he does use many components to generate the speed he bowls.

Ultimately, the faster your arm comes over, the faster the ball comes out. No mystery there. Some bowlers do this with ground speed like Steyn. Some with great mechanics like Lee. Others with power like Tait.

If you close off your action at the base, it doesn't help with overall speed, but it depends how much you do that. It means you have to bowl 'around' your leg and most bowlers then rotate off to cover on their follow through.

It isn't being sideways that makes you fast, nor is it that closing off your action that makes you slower. We are simply identifying the best way to be the most efficient.

There are some many factors in the action that help you to bowl fast. We cannot take a front on world class bowler like McGrath and make him sideways, to see what that difference would be in speed. That's because we are working with bowlers with their limitations, so as coaches we have to compromise on certain things.

If you could take a blank sheet of paper and create the 'perfect' model, you would choose a sideways action because of the range of hip motion and drive available. There are probably 10-20 things you would choose in all but no one has all of them in world cricket. Even Brett Lee, who is the closest, has certain things is his action that are not efficient as they could be.

I hope fast bowling coaching is going towards a coaching model for all bowlers. We certainly need it.

Dale DOES NOT* lock out his front leg and does not really create much of a shoulder hip separation - but he has fast hips. Dale's action is not perfect by any means but he does use many components to generate the speed he bowls.

*sorry Smiling

Hi there, I'm having a real problem with my bowling arm going past 12 and I believe it has caused a recent injury. Can any give me advice on how to stop it? Or the main causes of it so I can try and work out it myself? Many Thanks

Reading over the javelin literature out there, you really get the impression that for them, the devil is in the detail. A difference of ten meters in throwing length could be due to the smallest detail, so I don't have a problem with getting too technical when it comes to fast bowling. In fact the more detailed the better, if we want to get to a perfect or close to perfect model of fast bowling.

One thing I did notice while I was reading an article was a particular reference to the action of the legs during the crossover and delivery stride. It basically said that during the crossover and delivery stride you want to avoid too much vertical movement of the legs as that makes you settle on your back foot. But I recall that in the three knees drill, it mentions lifting your knees to at least hip level. So this seems like an area of disagreement.

I know that in fast bowling, you hear talk about having your left knee and elbow in line on back foot contact which serves as a point of alignment, but this knee action may come at a cost of losing forward momentum.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this Ian...

you see t.v and you'll notice that bowler's bowling 145 kph and above are mostly side on bowlers. the fastest bowlers of all time (jeff thomson,brett lee,shoaib akhtar,michael holding,shaun tait) were/are bowlers with side on action. why dont we see front on bowlers clocking 150 and above? there is suppose to be some technical reason behind that?
Ian please explain.

Does having a high jump or a long jump in your bowling action make you a faster bowler

ALEK _ the 3 knees drill is designed to get a fast bower uses his/her hip flexors. It isn'y really about lifting the knees up to create pace but to get the bowler used to using the hips to create forward momentum. I use this as a drill for a bowler to access the hips and also as a corrective sometimes if a bowler isn't using the bottom half of their action very well.

A javelin thrower does not jump, A fast bowler does to create 'hang time'. This means there will be some element of knee lift for a fast bowler whereas a javelin thrower is purely interested in how fast they can get the front foot down into the block (or plant as it's called in javelin terms).

There is a slight deviation here between javelin and fast bowling. Remember a javelin thrower is throwing UPWARDS and we are bowling DOWN. I am unsure whether the fast feet can lead to an OVER PITCHING (as the feet go too fast and the top cannot catch up in time) so if bowler wants to have a fast front foot plant then they should be aware they will have to re-sequence the top half to compensate. I have seen this before with students who have increased their front foot plant.

I feel that the lifting of the knee in the action (Tent Peg 1) is used to counter balance the fact that a bowler has jumped into the action. We know jumping loses ground speed In a similar way the baseball pitcher uses a VERY HIGH knee lift to pitch due to no ground speed.

Having worked with bowlers using crossover steps in cricket I can tell you they work in the same way that propelling a javelin works - quick feet into the block with minimal knee lift. It will be interesting over time to discover which approach works best for teaching pace bowlers.

KUSH - it is because virtually every fast bowling coach I have ever met coaches speed out of bowlers and not into them. No one is teaching pace. Coaches do not know how to develop pace in the action, so therefore the bowlers are simply not getting any faster.

We do see deliveries above 150 kph of course. 150-160 kph deliveries are not as rare as they used to be but we only see them from certain bowlers (Lee, Tait, Bond, Shoaib, Steyn) when they want to do it.

My view is that we would have many more 150 kph quicks and faster deliveries (165 kph or so) if coaches taught the mechanics of pace to fast bowlers.

Hi! Ian i read a report by ECB about the various technical problems in budding bowlers(u-19,u-15,u-17).One of the problem was; while landing the backfoot should be braced so that the energy doesn't leak, it can bend when the frontfoot lands. Is it true. Because I have seen the great Allan Donald and Brett lee doing it.

What is the average hip rotation for a side on bowler?

DEV - I have kinda given up on the ECB and their lack of understanding of how to generate pace. I haven't seen such a report (as I cannot be bothered to read the stuff they do anymore if i am honest) but it doesn't surprise me they are advocating EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of what you need to do.

The back foot impact should be a light touch. Extremely light. In javelin it is called a soft step because you don't want to be landing hard, stopping all your forward momentum then have to 'push' your top half forward to bowl.

You instead should land light (as if having a 'zero' reading on a set of scale). This was superbly identified in other posting by Tom Matcham. The idea is to collapse your weight from your back leg and into the front leg so all that forward energy is transferred into the block. the front leg then locks straight, like a stake being driving in at a 45 degree angle and your hips drive against that braced leg creating an energy transfer into the ball.

The last thing you want to do is to stop on BACK FOOT contact (as the ECB seem to want bowlers to do) and make this solid. I have heard coaches say that a bowler shouldn't collapse the back leg and should stand up tall. Possibly the WORST advice I have ever heard and comes from absolutely no understanding of power generation, potential energy or bowling fast.

The problem we all have is that coaches don't know what they are doing so how can we expect players to?

Anon - not sure there is an 'average' as it depends on many factors. The faster (speed) and further (range) the hip drive, the better. If you think about it logically, a side on bowler, if truly sideways, will turn through 90 degrees to release the ball front on. Everyone releases faces the batting when bowling so from sideway to forward is 90 degrees.

The only way to get more rotation than that is to land the back foot past sideways (Tait, Fidel Edwards, Jeff Thompson).

In terms of the 'average' though, I couldn't tell you. No one has ever measured the hip rotations of all side ways bowlers.

In baseball they talk about pitchers having good seperation from points in the sequence. For example the hips rotate then shoulders and so on, should this type of seperation be included in cricket?

Yes Jordan. and to help everyone out on this subject on the hidden force multiplier, shoulder hip separation and Range, Sequence, speed, Separation and Alignment (RSSSA), please watch this video about how power is generated in the throw. Now use this to start thinking how parts of this can show us where pace in fast bowling comes from. Now think about javelin... and you will be getting close to understanding things far better:

That's a good introductory video, although its interesting they chose Lincecum, a pitcher known for having a small timing problem and a borderline inverted L, which makes me suspicious as to the depth of their knowledge. Johnson, Clemons or Ryan would have been better subjects.

That was the video i was referring to Laughing out loud

@Ian Well I would imagine that if you want to have fast feet than you would have to re-sequence the top half of you action to start somewhat earlier. Someone like Thomson brought his bowling arm back before he got into his delivery stride like a javelin thrower would get in front of the javelin.

In your opinion do you think that a hybrid approach may be a workable solution, in that we maintain the jump into the delivery stride instead of using crossover steps, but we have the quick feet at the crease into the plant position? In that respect can we theoretically achieve a more efficient transfer of energy in the delivery stride?

ALEK - your simplest solution to have a one-to-one with me Smiling will take you there but it depends where you live of course!

You seem massively keen in this whole area and the great news is I am writing a paper on this to hopefully be published as I mentioned earlier plus devising a TPS scale so we can 'evaluate objectively' via guidelines, how efficient an action is.

There is an article “Centre of mass kinematics of fast bowlers in cricket” by Ferdinands et al. It is one of only a tiny handful on fast bowling, rather than injury prevention in elite level athletes, which appears to be where the most research has been done. I am personally disappointed to note the ECB does so little biomech work except for restricting bowlers.

Unfortunately, the great majority of these guys publishing articles will be academics who will understand the theory and have limited practical knowledge. (Ferdinands played one first class game in NZ). I am therefore hoping with my personal skills, experience and knowledge I will have a great deal to offer them through practical understanding of fast bowling –especially confirming and testing the accuracy or otherwise of their theories and (often) laboratory based practical work.

The work done in the field of fast bowling has left coaches with little idea of what to do or how to do it. I don't blame players for being frustrated and wondering who they can turn to for help.

Well to be honest, at the present state, apart from your work, you could learn more about fast bowling reading javelin or baseball literature. I have this DVD from Cricket NSW about pace bowling and apart from two videos that outline counter rotation and lateral flexion (injury prevention focus) not a thing about generating pace was mentioned.

I remember at a pace bowling workshop which was hosted by Cricket NSW and the guest was Brett Lee, in his view generating pace was all to do with the non bowling arm and bringing it sharply down. When I asked Brett about the way he uses his hips, chest etc, he had nothing and just referred again to the role of the non-bowling arm. In referring to the non-bowling arm Brett also said that you should avoid having "long levers like Jacques Kallis", which I didn't agree with at all, I think there is still this coaching that you should crunch your non-bowling arm into your side. This makes me think that even the guys at the top level aren't getting the right information.

I'll have a read of that article by Ferdinand and will look forward to your paper. Hopefully we can catch up when your in Australia later on in the year.

If Steyn's back to front impact is very quick does that mean he doesn't use knee lift 2 (from the 3 knee drill)

ALEK - Brett Lee (and all coaches from Australia, sorry) is confusing long levers with FAST levers.

We all know if a propeller of two inches across spins fast it helps to keep us cool with a nice breeze, yet a propeller 5 metres across is called a helicopter. We all understand leverage from school and that long levers create FAR more power.

This is where someone has been given half a picture and think they have the whole picture.

The speed of the lever is relevant. I think that cricket coaches think if you shorten everything it makes it better. What they forget is that RANGE of motion is also relevant, and when the ball (and movements) happen over a longer range, you can create more power.

My concern for cricket authorities is they appoint players into positions of coaching because they were great players yet they know nothing or at best very little about coaching pace. If CA doesn't even get that then don't expect a pace bowling revolution any time soon.. Sad

ANON - correct. He doesn't use a high knee lift to create the drive into the front foot impact, due to his energy transfer being so efficient from back foot into the block. If Dale locked out his front leg he would undoubtedly be quicker, too without sacrificing any control.

my question to you is that, why dont we see front on bowlers touching the 150 kph mark like the side on bowlers(jeff thomson,brett lee,shoaib akhtar,michael holding,shaun tait)?Ian please explain because as per your theory-it doesn't matter whether you bowl side or front on ,all the bowlers tend to deliver front on(both the feet pointing straight down the wicket). so why can't the front on bowlers generate pace as the side on bowlers can.

KUSH - you may have missed previous postings on other threads.

If you were going to build a perfect fast bowling model, you would create them as a sideways bowler. That is because they would have a fuller hip range (range of motion through 90 degrees) compared to a front on bowler, whose hips are already pointing forwards.

So it does matter if you are sideways or front on. My point is that you can still bowl fast front on. Malcolm Marshall, the great West Indian pace bowler, had a front on back foot position and he was fearsome. I can confess he was the quickest and most awkward to face. He bowled in excess of 150 kph.

Sideways bowlers tend to be faster PER SE and therefore the back foot position is relevant in helping the hips range of motion. But also, it is important to sequence the action and the speed of the hip movement that has relevancy over the speed of a ball, plus of course many other factors.

You seem to be looking for one thing that is a definitive for pace but I cannot give that to you because is it really is Range, Sequence, Speed, Separation and Alignment that affect it. Sideways against Front On is a moot argument if the rest of the action is missing things is what I am saying. Once the hips have fired (sideways or front on) and WHILST the hips are firing, other factors are also at play.

Just going back to Alek's comments on Brett Lee, I got the impression that Lee was using his front arm to _help_ his hip and shoulder drive, but that he just didn't seem to be aware that was what he was doing or why it was helping him bowl quickly.

The reference to Kallis and longer levers is a bit of a red herring in that context, because both guys seem to be using their levers to do the same thing.

The difference is that Kallis is able to generate 85mph pace out of a much slower and shorter run-up than Lee uses to generate 90-05mph pace, which suggests to me that Kallis's levers are working pretty darned well.

However, given that Lee doesn't seem to understand why his bowling action generates pace (and one wonders whether if he adopted Kallis's longer levers he might have bowled even faster), he doesn't seem to be the right person to be leading a workshop on the subject!

When will people learn that the ability to perform a skill to a high level and the ability to understand and coach that skill are two completely different things!

How many ex-footballers do we need to see fail as football managers before we figure this out? There are countless examples of Brett Lees in every sport. Just because someone exhibits good mechanics does not mean they understand good mechanics.

I remember going to a baseball coaching conference with a relatively famous ex-pitcher speaking. He just repeated the mantras he had obviously been told when he was learning, and no-one there had the heart to tell him that the ideas he was repeating had gone out of date about 30 years ago.

Any tips on bowling realatively accurate and fast

@Dave Well You are right about that, Brett's lower lower half of the body is technically very good that he doesn't realise that is where he gets a lot of his power from. This is also due to a lack of proper education and information from his coaches. The thing is some guys like Brett are just lucky they have inherited a good action through pure chance, others have to work at it And hence his inability to explain what he does to bowl fast. I was quite disappointed with the seminar. Len Pascoe the former Aussie quick will be coming to my club for coaching, I'll be keen to see what he says, not expecting much technically, hoping to hear more tactical stuff about setting the batsmen up, etc.

@Ian Dale Steyn is a good example of having fast feet at the crease. Infact you could see when he is bowling the high 140's, low 150's he is really running in hard.

The interesting thing is though that while we may be discussing adding more rotation to the back foot movement, I was reading a javelin paper and they were encouraging the throwers to have an altered back foot position. If side on back foot position is 3'o clock, the recommendation was in having that position more between 1 and 2 o' clock, preferably 1:30. And I can somewhat see the logic, if you want to get really quickly into the plant and transfer your energy efficiently, you don't want any extra rotation that can cause the top half of your body to start earlier than required and fail to get a good hip/shoulder separation. Again it falls down to sequencing.

From a fast bowling point of view, having a side on bowler have that sort of a back foot position could cause alignment issues. That sort of back foot position closely resembles that to a semi bowler that has his back foot at 45 degrees.

@AB I think you are quite right, unless you have played "Test Cricket" the assumption is you got no clue about the game and how to coach. Its definitely an imposed barrier.

@anon - there are actually quite a lot of good tips for preparation, practice and playing all across this site, including on fast bowling. I recommend you trawl through the sections on fast (or pace) bowling and see what you can make of the info.

What is hyperextension?

ALEK - you said this "The interesting thing is though that while we may be discussing adding more rotation to the back foot movement, I was reading a javelin paper and they were encouraging the throwers to have an altered back foot position. If side on back foot position is 3'o clock, the recommendation was in having that position more between 1 and 2 o' clock, preferably 1:30. And I can somewhat see the logic, if you want to get really quickly into the plant and transfer your energy efficiently, you don't want any extra rotation that can cause the top half of your body to start earlier than required and fail to get a good hip/shoulder separation. Again it falls down to sequencing."

This is why you cannot LITERALLY shoe horn one sport into another (not saying you are but just highlighting it should be ADAPTED not ADOPTED). The javelin thrower has an EARLIER release point plus a completely different angle of attack. In theory, a fast bowler can not only get more range of motion than a javelin thrower but also far more power generated. Fast bowlers are bowling down as we know and can also utilise chest drive and shoulder rotation, too.

AB - quite true about former players. They know very little about how they did anything technically in pace bowling.

DAVE - some bowlers are just lucky! If you have ever heard Allan Donald coach his 'big' idea for pace bowlers is to "be more aggressive". It's what he basically talks about as the 'solution' for fast bowlers. Tim Southee's action is a mess and Hamish Bennett's action is shocking, yet by being 'more aggressive' Cricket NZ felt this was the answer and why they wanted AD to stay on. This is exactly an example of cricket authorities having no clue and former players, too.

Soory, meant hyper-flexion

I do think former players still have a lot to offer, but its really more on the psychological and strategic side of the game, or what drills and training they did to get to the top, rather than in-depth technical details that they may or may not have understood at the time.

Certainly a lot of ideas can be taken from baseball - the age-old and widely known (in pitching coaching terms at least) concept of a carefully timed sequence of movements starting at the feet and ending at the fingertips is general enough to be applied to fast bowlers. The movements may be different, but the principles are the same: Get the timings spot on, and make the movements as powerful, consistent, and well-aligned with the target as possible, and you're pretty much hitting the peak of what the human body can achieve.

I think its worth pointing out that coaching pitchers/bowlers to maintain injury free without giving them velocity is pointless, but coaching them to improve velocity without carefully controlling any increased injury risk is not only equally pointless but immoral. The two must be taught hand in hand.

Which muscles should be strengthened in your body for bowling?

Honestly? Most of them. A decent upper body workout won't hurt, but particularly focus on your legs and core.

AB which muscles in the whole body would you think are the most important?

As I say, for bowling probably work on the legs and core to improve both power (and hence bowling speed if harnessed correctly) and stamina. Focus particularly on the quads and hamstrings, the groin, the abs, the obliques. Strong legs, back, core and hips are crucial to pace bowling.

A weekly upper body routine of pectorals, back, deltoids, triceps, biceps, lats, rotator cuff will also help. Work on the core and lower body maybe twice as much as the upper body though.

I'm sure there are other more fitness oriented coaches on here who will give you more specific advice.

AB do you know any exercises for hamstrings?

Ian please can we be taught the butterfly ball, Ive heard so much about it and I and im sure many others would love to know how to bowl it, on the How to Bowl faster course, if not free on the website.

Mr A. Nonymous: leg curls are the obvious one that come to mind. Anything that involves bending your legs against resistance.

There are also lots of exercises - both with weights and using body weight on this website if you want to search for them.

Ant: the butterfly ball is basically the cricket version of the knuckleball in baseball. I'm not sure how effective it is in cricket other than as another method of bowling a slower delivery as the seams on a cricket ball are not like those on a baseball, and any wobbling effect produced would be nullified as soon as the ball bounced. But if you want to learn the technique, just google how to pitch a knuckleball.

What is a butterfly ball?

Its cricket's attempt to mimic the knuckleball. Anyone who has played both sports over the past 100 years will probably have had a go at bowling one. I've known how to bowl one since I was a kid, although I've never bothered using it in a game. I'm not entirely convinced as to its efficacy. Its basically a split-fingered slower ball but with a fingertip grip.

Is it a the knuckleball in cricket? Zaheer Khan is a player who uses this.

Butterfly Ball

Background to the Delivery

The challenge we had with this ball was getting it to be BOWLED rather than thrown. We discovered through exhaustive testing that it doesn't have to be bowled split finger and you can also make it swing.

You can make up your own minds whether the efficacy is good on the Butterfly Ball clip above.

Disguise is the key in the run up and if you hold it normally but rock your wrist back on load up, you can 'hide' the grip.

It is without doubt the most deadly ball if bowled perfectly not least as it gives a unique view to the batsman he will have NEVER seen before, namely a static (non-spinning) delivery in flight. This alone has an effect on the batsman.

Catherine Dalton (bowling the ball in the clip) uses it to amazing effect and takes regular wickets in men's cricket with this delivery.

I've watched that clip before, and I honestly can't really tell from it whether the delivery is effective or not. Without seeing it bowled to a batsman, its hard to tell exactly what effect it would have. It doesn't seem to flutter like a Tim Wakefield knuckleball, its baseball equivalent in terms of its dropping action (if it does what you suggest it does) is more like that of a splitter.

AB - You should know that a single seam circular ball as in cricket cannot behave exactly the same way as a horseshoe shape stitch baseball behaves. I have seen a cricket ball with no rotation on it, dip and twist in the air - particularly if the ball flies with the seam positioned like a clock face like a ten pence piece and leather facing the batsman.

The behaviour of this delivery is unique. It cannot behave like a baseball and the 'flutter' is not in the same way as a baseball knuckleball. I have seen this deliver appear to 'corkscrew' and also drop more like a wicked curve ball. I have also seen this deliver 'step down' as if changing trajectory.

The factors that seem to affect this delivery are seam position (this is more true for a circular seamed cricket ball than horseshoe seam baseball.

I have asked Dr Rabi Metha, the world's leading authority on ball patterning in the air and NASA rocket scientist, to review the behaviour of this delivery.

After seeing this and reading my notes on this he said about this delivery: "1. The upward Magnus force due to backspin (opposing gravity) is now absent so the ball WILL drop faster than the usual fast ball.

2. Due to the lack of spin, you CAN get erratic behavior... there is no spin to stabilize the
ball (seam) orientation so the ball can change orientation during flight ... depending on
instantaneous seam position, you can get an erratic flight."

AB - I don't claim to have a definitive on this or claim to be a world expert in why these things happen to a ball. But I am gracious enough to acknowledge something new - especially as no one has been able to successfully bowl this ball until now. If it is so simple I am unsure why no one has ever bowled this in cricket history.

Both Julien Fountain (co-creator) and myself have had tryouts as pro ball pitchers with Major League teams and both of us are international pro cricket coaches. We spent many months perfecting the grip and release of this so others can bowl it correctly. It is a hybrid. I hope others can be encouraged to try it as the results are devastating, despite the negative connotations implied by some.

hello ian i want to know that how can i buy fastbowlers bible i live in pakistan

AB I think you are a superb thinker on cricket but your fitness advice leaves a lot to be desired!

These days athletic performance is based around training movements rather than specific muscles. So for "leg" training we do squat movements (knee dominant) and hip hinge movements (hip dominant).

Also for various reasons it's best to reject single-joint and machine exercises. They just suck in terms of athletic improvement and injury prevention (and are even less efficient if you are just looking for a beach body).

So ignore leg curls and go for more multi-joint exercises:

* Deadlift (one and two leg, stiff legged and orthodox style)
* Good Morning (one and two leg)
* Exercise Ball Hamstring Curls
* Hip Thrusters

Also use squat variations - single leg, double leg, front, back, rear foot elevated and lateral. You can also lunge forward, reverse and sideways. There are a ton of variations. This will train the knee dominant movement.

The core is slightly different as the aim is to improve your ability to stay stable while your limbs move. To a small extent this is covered by the "big" lifts (squat, deadlift, upper body pushing) but you also need to factor in some other moves:

* Anti-rotation (like the pallof press)
* Anti-flexion (like famers walks)
* Anti-extension (like rollouts)

You will note: no traditional "ab" exercises like crunches. You get a hell of a lot more benefit from the above than you do from traditional ab training (again for a variety of reasons).

For more on this check out the fitness section on the site under the categories link at the top of the page. Or do a search.

Sorry for the sidebar on fitness, let's get back to the bowling discussion!

I just wanted to add the Butterfly Ball actually works, so regardless of what anyone does or doesn't feel about it, you should always be encouraged to TRY.

Being a success is about trying. Please go and try these new things for cricket.

The nay sayers and those who think they 'know it all' will always try to spoil that part of cricket. So have fun finding out what works for you and what doesn't. After all, it's not what anyone on here thinks (international cricket coaches or amateurs) that matters, it;s what works for YOU Smiling

Good Luck

Well if you are a really quick bowler, this type of ball could be quite lethal. The batsmen could be thinking that it is a beamer and it is about to clean him up in the teeth and then it just drops on him. Shoaib Akhtar bowled some good slower balls against England similar to this.

Aleks - you remember Chris Cairns bowling Chris Read and Graham Thorpe with balls like that back in 99? It's a good trick but its not a new one. He used a split-finger grip, which also produces a lack of spin (look up a forkball in baseball). As any baseball coach will tell you, its the exact same delivery, just with a different grip.

People have been playing cricket and baseball side-by-side for 100s of years, and the knuckleball was invented in 1908. To think that no-one had tried bowling one in all that time is crazy. I've seen it bowled with my own eyes, I've even bowled one myself in the nets as I couldn't manage the forkball. All that is new is the name "butterfly-ball" - as most cricketers just called it the knuckleball like in baseball. This reminds me of other "inventions" such as the infamous "gyroball" or even the "teesra" - which Saqlain claimed to have invented but which just turned out to be the kind of straight backspinner that offspinners have been bowling since the invention of cricket.

What would be interesting to see would be if a professional cricketer managed to make it an effective ball at first class level with a genuinely distinctive wobbling or dropping movement, rather than just a different type of slower ball. Hopefully we will soon see that with one of Ian's tutees!

AB - you said this but you are incorrect: you remember Chris Cairns bowling Chris Read and Graham Thorpe with balls like that back in 99? It's a good trick but its not a new one. He used a split-finger grip, which also produces a lack of spin (look up a forkball in baseball). As any baseball coach will tell you, its the exact same delivery, just with a different grip.

I know Chris Cairns well and he says that was an off cutter and NOT the same ball we are identifying here. Secondly, A spilt finger in CRICKET does not behave the same as a forkball for two reasons:

1. The seam orientation on a cricket ball is completely different and behaves differently
2. A split finger ball in cricket is NOT bowled to create zero rotation, but to 'slide' out of the fingers.
3. A baseball is thrown and the cricket ball is bowled straight arm. The importance of that is a throw controls the release point far easier than a straight armed delivery.

I am starting to think all your postings are somewhat antagonistic or to prove that you seem to know more about this subject than anyone else. But AB let me assure you that many creative coaches who actually work at the coal face discover the little things you seem to miss, or seem to imply you already know.

Is isn't what you know that counts, it's what you do with that knowledge. All I read is you coming from a position of 'lack' all the time. We have seen it widely across other topics too, and it is becoming a little tiresome.

David has already had reason to correct you on your fitness advice, in this VERY thread. He doesn't often feel obliged to do that, which shows how wide of the mark you perhaps are at times. Despite you being described as a 'superb thinker' on cricket it would be far better to be a creative coach on cricket with substantive proof and evidence rather than someone who seems to know it all without much, if anything, to back it up.

I am sorry AB but you have driven me to rant this way. You show little humility and even less respect with your dismissive "I know better" postings. Maybe you are just that type of person but it doesn't bode well for you as a coach, educator or decent dinner guest. (Sorry to say all that David)

For the butterfly ball do you grip the ball between your index finger and middle finger?

I'm not claiming to know it all. I'm not the one claiming to have "invented" something and to be the only person who knows how to coach it, despite the fact that people have been bowling for years. Do you honestly think the knuckleball had never been bowled in cricket until you rebranded in "the butterfly ball" as an money-making scheme? Is that honestly what you are claiming? That you "invented" this delivery?

By the way, don't be confused - the drop on an offcutter slower ball and a zero-spin slower ball (regardless of whether you use a knuckeball or forkball grip to produce it) will be absolutely identical, because both have the exact same magnus force acting upon them in the vertical direction.

I will just add - please try and keep the discussion to cricketing matters. This isn't the first time you have strayed away from the cricket being discussed and resorted to unprovoked personal attacks instead, Ian, but I really do hope it will be the last. Lets get back to discussing the techniques and physics behind the various slower balls, that's what the readers of this site want to read about, not how much better than me you think you are!

@AB I do remember the Read slower ball. But Cairns is pretty tall, it may that the whole arm above the sight screen may have come in to play and the batsman just lost it. That has happened to a few batsmen on English grounds. Regardless it made him look very silly.

As far as crossover from baseball cricket to, Ian Chappell made the comments about Waqar Younis when he reverse swung the ball, that he dropped or angled his wrist to the right similar to what a baseball pitcher would do. So we definitely can learn many tricks from baseball.

Aleks - Malinga is another great example. I often hear what he bowls described as an "inswinging" yorker - but actually due to his low arm, what he is bowling is basically the same as a 2-seam or "tailing" fastball. No swing involved!

Malinga actually bowls the exact same two deliveries as the classic righty side-arm pitcher - instead of the sinker and slider read the "inswinging" yorker and offcutter slower ball.

Malinga would be a much faster bowler if he had a full chest drive. I don't think he takes full advantage of his hip/shoulder separation.

I remember Waqar Younis himself said that when he bowled the big inswinging yorkers he would get more singly in his action.

I am trying to share the Butterfly Ball with as many people as possible. As far as I know, from evidence from other bowling coaches and international bowlers (as we do discuss these things in the real world and not theory) NO ONE is widely bowling zero-rotation deliveries, if at all (other than The SLOB).

Some people have messed about with the concept but no one has come up with a way to do it and coach it, until now.

It is a new delivery and I can confirm that and is number 22 in the list of slower deliveries, following on from The SLOB, which was the first zero-rotation delivery to be shared with people 3 years ago but has been very hard to bowl. Brett Lee has mastered a version of this. I am not claiming this is a new invention - but it is the first time someone has come up with the way to bowl it effectively and then shared that. In the same way that reverse swing is known yet The Fast Bowler's Bible (2004) was (and I believe still is) the first book to write up how to bowl it. Knowing is one thing, effective and practical education is quite another.

The Butterfly Ball (Projapoti) is taking a baseball grip and tweaking it so a bowler can hold it correctly and bowl it correctly. It takes into account the single seam orientation that makes the ball behave differently.

I can also confirm it is FREE to learn and there is no money making involved!

Julien Fountain and myself also use other baseball techniques for power hitting and fielding in coaching for cricket. Julien is one of the world's leading fielding coaches and has developed a 'slide step' for fielding for example, which replacing the outmoded and ineffective 'crow hop'.

It is always good to look at other sports like athletics, javelin and baseball to see how they create their power, speed and effectiveness. But the trick is to ADAPT and not to ADOPT them to cricket, which was the entire point of all my threads on this subject.

Knowing what people are doing is one thing, but teaching them how to do something is quite different. The art of a coach is to educate and develop talent. Knowledge is not enough. If it was then theorising boffins, with degrees and certificates, would be the very best cricket coaches and we all know they are not. That's because theory and reality are often poles apart due to the nature of the human being when it comes to delivering skill.

Where so called 'experts' try to bamboozle cricketers with science, coaches have to deliver practical advice. Deciphering the gobbledegook and transliterating that into everyday language is the skill of a coach. Scientists can sadly get stuck in their own self-important world when it comes to cricket and think they have the answers but they forget someone has to go out and create a way of delivering that knowledge.

So the Butterfly Ball is that. And I can confirm that as soon as the grip is mastered for a cricket ball and with the restrictions of learning capacity, straight arm delivery and the fact a cricket ball has to land (unlike a baseball pitch) then we will see many more people bowling zero-rotation deliveries in the next few years.

Science has a function and a place in cricket but it can never coach cricket. In the same way Strength & Conditioning has a function and a place in cricket but should never take over cricket.

Coaching, educating and helping people to develop, is a skill. Anyone can learn physics, watch baseball, observe cricket from an armchair, or read about the theory behind biomechanics. But very, very few people can educate and develop talent from the beginner level to world-class level and all points in between.

The worst coaches of all are those who tell you what you are doing wrong, but cannot help you to put it right. That's because it is all about the coach's knowledge instead of educating the player with useful things they can start using right away. I feel the scientific community forgets this fact - players have to play cricket and not sit in a classroom looking at white boards. Practical help is always missing from much 'science based' coaching.

Scientists become the worst of all worlds therefore when it comes to cricket coaching. They cannot wait to tell you what's going wrong or why something is happening, then assume that is coaching. It's interesting for about 5 seconds then we get back to actually playing cricket. I have met many such people. They are chomping at the bit to tell you what they know about the 'science' of cricket, yet offer no practical help.

I enjoy the understanding of biomechanics and how to apply that to fast bowling. But it has it's place. And during the past 18 years many tweaks have been made in the efficacy of the drills to suit the bowlers using the practical nature of what we've discovered.

The Butterfly Ball is out there now for people to try. It has been proven to be highly effective in practice (and not theory) so have fun trying it.

ALEK - yep...... most international fast bowlers lower their arm to curve the ball in. It's effective at 'the death' and can also assist with a reverse swinging ball. It suits a side on action better due to the ease of round arm release, too.

If you do this be careful about the leg side as the targeting changes (release of the ball position from the hand) and it's easy to slide it into the pads or worse, a wide down leg side.

The thing about really quick fast bowling, I'm talking about 150 km/h and above is that it can be sustained only for a short period of time. You may get 2 maybe 3 overs and then the fast bowler is puffed out, you see this with Shaun Tait, Brett Lee as well he was very quick in the first few overs of his spell in a one day game, not able to sustain it throughout his whole spell.

My hope is that through sheer technical efficiency we could get to a stage where a fast bowler can bowl consistently at those speeds up above 150 km/h. Fitness plays a part sure, but I'd hope that the technical side of things would be the main contributor. If you look at someone like Thomson, he had a pretty relaxed run up, there was no hustle and bustle like you see in Lee and Shoaib, he just got to the crease and unleashed these thunderbolts. Lillee is always talked about as the one with the great action, but Thommo had better biomechanics than Lillee.

And then hopefully combined with improvements in strength and conditioning we could tackle the 165km/h barrier and even go towards 170km/h. The 100 miles per hour barrier has been around for 30 or so years in fast bowling and it hasn't been extended, the way records keep getting broken in athletics.

Ian, that's awesome. Nothing more exciting than seeing a new delivery or a new bowling style arriving on the 1st class or international circuit. Do you think we will see the butterfly ball being bowled in ODI's or the T20 cup any time soon?

Aleks - I think the next target for fast bowling is to produce bowlers who can consistently hit 95-100mph without losing accuracy or lateral movement. Technically, we may have broken the 100mph barrier, but its only been done a handful of times so it doesn't really have a genuine impact on the sport.

ALEK you are quite correct in all you say. We know why this is though. Batting for example has improved dramatically over the years runs scored, power hitting, the way batsmen think. Sadly fast bowling hasn't really altered that much and with specific reference to pace, it really hasn't.

"Back in the day" when the no ball law was different, fast bowlers were encouraged to drag their back foot. I believe firmly that this one factor assisted bowlers in their pace - by helping engaging the back foot through the action for longer and driving the hips to target far better. Of course coaching then taught ONLY sideways bowling as the way to bowl, too meaning if people were going to be faster per se, they had more likelihood with that base alignment.

In my view, Larwood was the fastest of all time, yet his career was around 60 years ago.

It clearly shows how fast bowling coaches have habitually failed to miss the important side of the coin in pace bowling - PACE itself.

I have no idea whether international country boards will ever look at PACE as a weapon along with line and length. The issue is they have to understand it all first. The answer might be for someone to be 'produced' from nowhere and that is what I am hoping to do in India over the next 4 years:

We have to find 3 or 4, 150kph bowlers in India for the world to take speed coaching seriously.

Well that would be great Ian. I live in India (mumbai city).I would definitely come to
Haryana to meet you. May sound weird but i have got your photo on my ceiling,every morning i get up and the first thing that i see is your photo.You are my hero. Hope I'll meet you.Just let me know whenever you come to Haryana. This is my id . I know you won't inform but I still hope that you will.

This was posted earlier: "the drop on an offcutter slower ball and a zero-spin slower ball (regardless of whether you use a knuckeball or forkball grip to produce it) will be absolutely identical."

If there is NO spin, there is NO Magnus force.... with a curveball, it has topspin, which produces a downward Magnus force which adds to the gravitational force and makes the ball drop faster....

With the off cutter in cricket or Gyroball in baseball...if the ball is spinning
(purely) along the direction of motion (like a bullet) ...then again NO Magnus force.

Other than the drop step front foot block what other techniques are good for getting more pace? Tried the butterfly ball today got it right a couple of times and can't wait to use it in the next season.

Hi Ian - you just quoted me about the Magnus force on a offcutter or zerospin delivery - but I couldn't tell whether you were agreeing with my comment or not?

@Ian Well you were on your way to proving just that with the guy you had under your tutelage, Atul Sharma. What's going on with him because I haven't read or heard something about him for quite a while?

ALEK - arrrgh the dreaded Atul Sharma story.

The guy had it all and went off to do his own thing after he got the Rajasthan Royals contract. I don't know where he is, what he is doing or whether he is even playing cricket. Atul's story worked against me as many people felt he was a hoax initially and then the images of him like a body builder didn't help.

What interested me was taking someone who had not played much cricket and help turn them into a prospect. Whatever was said about Atul, the Rajasthan Royals clearly wouldn't be offering a multi-thousand dollar contract unless he could do all that was said about him.

If not Atul, then someone else who has a different approach to the fame and someone able to cope better with pressure. I have two or three up and coming quicks in the MCI stable who might come through.

My problem is that I don't coach for free and my fees put off many determined fast bowlers coming to me. The ECB has all the money it needs but doesn't wish to look at speed coaching for fast bowlers. So this is why I have to work independently.

My MCI business suffers from having no sponsorship to go out and produce 20-30 fast bowlers who can bowl 90-95 mph in time. Players have to fund that themselves, and when the counties offer THEIR coaching for free, you can see why parents and players take what's free.

In the end, if you are counties and you coach enough people, you will find a star by default. But that isn't developing fast bowlers, it is babysitting them, or 'doing no harm'.

I am absolutely certain there are many other 'Atul' type potentials out there who will never be brought through. And even if the ECB threw millions more at coaching, they wouldn't develop any more quicks. Coaching is always about the content, as we all know. I have always said for the money spent on coaching in England, we ought to be able to produce five Stuart Broads every year, rather than one every five years.

But of course, you have to know be able to coach this stuff in the first place.

Ian is all the stuff in that course in the fast bowlers bible?

Anon, the fast bowlers's bible as far as I am concerned is a must for anyone that's keen on fast bowling. I am not just saying that because Ian is a poster here, its worth its wait in gold. The more you read it and the more you do research on the topic the more the contents will become clearer to you. The book and the course complement each other very nicely

ANON - The Fast Bowler's Bible was written in 2003/4 whilst I was at the World Cup in SA with the England Team training camp in Port Elizabeth. TFBB was an amalgamation of many years of coaching notes and real life examples of coaching pace into bowlers.

TFBB deliberately didn't include the skill drills as I didn't want kill my own coaching business! However, I reveal many of them in the online PV course on here How to Bowl Faster.

8 years on and the skill drills that go with that book, plus newer stuff like stretch reflex, drop step and front foot block etc etc, are taught at my workshop courses and academy. The courses compliment the book, as ALEK suggests. I also bring to life the yorkers, slower balls, variations and swing parts of the book plus the Butterfly Ball.

I know I am biased admittedly but I think the section on the drop step and front foot block is worth the entrance money alone.

Ian,how to drag the backfoot like Brett lee or like shown in this video . Brett lee twist his foot and then drag .but in the other video it advices to drag foot as straight as possible. Ian im confused plz tell which one is the better technique.

Robin, I would have thought that dragging your foot would reduce your pace, as it would be slowing you down and providing additional resistance to pushing your hip through quickly. Ian, feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken.

ROBIN - Brett Lee has a drop step (bend of the back knee like stepping down stairs) and a front foot block (where you decelerate rapidly against a straight, locked angled back front leg). This is PERFECT.

The drop step is important (collapsing the back leg into the front) because it transfers the run up energy into the block. Having a stiff or straight back leg decelerates the momentum far too early and the bowler then has to throw the top half forward, without the hips having worked first.

The bend (collapsed back leg towards the target) is what you want.

DAVE - you have to drag your back foot through your action into release to maintain the drive, otherwise you will simply be 'stepping' like a spin bowler. If you want to try this:

Place your back and front foot like you are bowling and try to push a wall over. Push with locked arms and as you do this raise your front foot and you will be able to maintain power. When you try to lift your back foot and do this, you cannot.

What a collapsed back leg does is transfer the run up speed efficiently, and also keep your hip flexors 'engaged' by driving the back leg. Lifting your foot too early before you let the ball go (by lifting the knee) disengages the hips.

Bowlers who do this start to lose power and speed before the ball is bowled.

@Dave By dragging your back foot you keep your hips engaged in the movement as Ian said, that's where dragging the back foot comes in. However this drag should not be so "rough" or hard so as to slow down the movement of the hips.

Thanks, Ian, Alek.

I think I need to video my action - I have no idea if I do this properly or not (which probably means that I don't!!)

sir , i am a cricket fast bowler , i have good run up and good action and follow through also , in recent days i have joined a jym to build stronger my body. I have done every thing but i cant get my pace anyway . Sir , i request you please help me. i am waiting for your advise.

What are the names of the hip muscles used to generate pace?

Hi Guys, A shame I didn't see this thread earlier on, a lot of great points have been brought up. How you doing Ian, long time no speak.

About the whole javelin bowling difference, and quick feet between back foot and front foot Ian and Alek were talking about. We kind of left it at that, do we draw any conclusions. I too have looked into the javelin soft-step techniques, and a big emphasis is put on a very quick soft step to front foot time. JZ has the shortest time and the longest throw. I get there is a difference in trajectory, but wouldn't it still be useful to be as quick as possible with the feet. The way I think of it ( I could be way wrong) is that the bowler releases the ball a fraction later than a jav thrower, so getting speed in jav will lead to getting speed in bowling, as the action follows the same path only released a bit later. The other point is we pike at the waist, which mean we don't throw down as much we could think.

Hi Jay,

As I wrote above, I think a hybrid approach may be the go, where you can keep the jump to get into the delivery stride and then use the quick feet. In that way we take advantage of the hip rotation of a side on bowler and the quick feet of the front on bowler. The other alternative is to adopt something akin to the transition steps of a javelin thrower, but that has its own challenges.

The thing though is that you'd probably want to get your action ironed out before you move on to the quick feet. The quick feet should probably be the last piece of the puzzle. And that may take some time to incorporate into the action as it will have an affect in your sequencing and ultimately your ball release, so you have to take that into account

For the quick feet approach do you put your back foot down and then your front foot as soon as possible after your back foot then take your back foot off the ground quickly?

ANON - The idea is to transfer your linear speed (run up speed) and transfer that into your block (straight front leg). The very best way of doing this is to collapse your back leg quickly and not hold your weight on that back leg too long.

Just having fast feet in itself will not create more speed into the cricket ball unless it is transferred into the ball by stopping very quickly with the front leg. Ideally, your front leg should be straight and angled back towards your hips like you have driven a stake into the ground at about 45 degrees. This is what assists massively with the hip drive and the transfer of your ground speed up your body (like a ripple effect) and finally into the ball on release.

ALEK - be aware that fast feet will change much of the sequencing so it is probably better to get the base correct first before sync the top and then having to re-sync it all again. However, if it is just a faster 'hit' of the front foot then the bowler will feel a 'push' in the back where that energy travels up the body. One of the issues for bowlers attempting faster feet is they can feel out of control as the action then seems to be happening too fast.

I feel there is a balance to be had. As long as the muscles stretch and contract in sequence, over as long a range as possible and as fast as possible with good alignment, then we are in business.

IAN do you think that practicing the drop step(soft step) front foot block in slow manner will help our muslce memory to repeat this bending of back leg in fast bowling in real time speed

IAN i also want to know isn't it better to land on the ball of the feet to allow bend occur at the knee or just a full feet contact for the bending to occur.i have seen some clips of shoaib akhtar , brett lee, jeff thomson that they don't touch their heel at all.

@Ian Well I would think that before you get into the fast feet, you would want to have at least a decent drop step before you work on the speed of the movement itself, that was my initial thinking.

But I think your point about control is very crucial and what makes this aspect of the action much trickier.

Ian would you recommend a side on bowler using the fast feet technique?

USSAMA - land soft on the ball of the foot is better. You can train all your skill drills in slow mo and in fact this is the ONLY way to do it if you want to get it engrained. You have to feel what the body is doing first because at high speed you will not.

ANON - any bowler can employ fast feet.

ALEX - the drop step is just collapsing the back leg so this will enhance fast feet anyway. If you keep your back leg stiff you cannot get into the straight front leg position (angled back at 45 degrees like this shape: > / to maximise the block)

Ian wrote "You can train all your skill drills in slow mo and in fact this is the ONLY way to do it if you want to get it engrained."

This is what I wanted to get at. You have to master the technique of the drop step at a slower tempo to build up the muscle memory before you can progress onto performing the movement quicker. I'm looking at it in terms of a progression scale.

Going back to your point on the drop step. Last week I read a javelin paper which discouraged the dropping of the knee. Instead they were favouring landing on your back foot with a slight bend and then extending your front knee to achieve the collapse instead of dropping the right knee. They were also talking about the extent you would want to collapse the knee and mentioned that you should not try to collapse the right knee below 60 degrees. I wonder your thoughts are on this from a cricket viewpoint.

in javelin literature the coaches suggests that before the penultimate stride you should actively push your left leg so that your power leg (right leg) land slighty ahead of the centre of gravity so as to allow the bending to occur. Is this can be done in bowling

it is also stated that the penultimate stride speed of world fastest bowler jeff thomson was 13.7 it's make perfect sense to approach a running speed through which u can make use of G.R.F(ground reaction forces).
running in too fast and u can't utilize G.R.F. IAN what are your thoughts in this regards.would appreciate your feedback.
And which type of action should be best for drop step front foot block.

My son is 12 yrs old he wants to bowl where as i want him to bat,
the problem is the height as his father height is 5feet 5 inches, all though at his age his development of height is normal as with other kids of similar age,

he has 2 problem

Flat Feet
and height because of genes.

will this effect his growth as fast bowler.

Anon said:

"What are the names of the hip muscles used to generate pace?"

All the muscles are used, in different combinations, through a specific sequence... However, other muscles are also used as instigators and stabilisers, which is why it is extremely important to train movement and not muscles.

Was there a reason why you wanted a more specific answer Anon?

ram, in my experience, if you make somebody do something they do not want to do, they do not succeed! Is there any reason why your son cannot train to be both a bowler and a batsman? There are some great all rounders out there!

As for height, he is too young to even guess what height he will reach and I work with many lads who are heads and shoulders above their Dads; especially with great knowledge of nutrition these days.

As for flat feet, this does not have to be so. Get hold of a good soft tissue specialist to work with your son to engage the muscles to lift his arches.

Liz I wanted to know because I thought it would be a good idea to strengthen them.

To everyone who has asked about the AMOUNT of drop step, the more the better. If you have see Lee viewed from sideways, there are times when his right knee is barely above the level of his right heel in the drop step - or about 6-10 inches off the floor. This move also keeps your hips level if you straighten your front leg to 45 degrees of so in the block and keeps your base stable, so you can release the ball on the same side as your right hip.

I have spent much time with javelin legendary coach Tersius Liebenberg in South Africa, and double Olympic Gold medallist, Andreas Thorkildsen and his coach Asmund Martinsen. I have discussed the drop step and making sure the body is NOT pushed forward in front of your point of gravity so the top half gets too far ahead.

In cricket, which differs from javelin that throws the object upwards, the ball is pulled down about 16m or so in front of the bowler who can also then follow though as far as they wish. We know this. But that's also why the movement is slightly different to javelin and adapted, not adopted.

I get you Anon. I ask because I know it is an exam question.

If you want to strengthen the muscles, you should aim to strengthen the group... unless you are rehabilitating.

The deadlift is a good exercise for you.

THis article goes into reasonable detail about the specifics and mechanics that generally aid in generating pace through the air. Imran Khan's huge leap, Waqar's colossal delivery stride, Thommo's back bending sweep of the arm can all be explained through this article. After reading this, I have no doubt that ZAhid was on his way to becoming the fastest ever bowler. He generated such momentum with his glide to the wicket and then his arm positioning ensured that his whole body hurled itself towards the batter on completion of the action. Anyhoo, read on guys. Its not definitive guide on how to generate pace as people like Simon Jones, Eddie GIlbert and Akram fall into another category IMO which employs the shoulder and wrist even after the arm is past the parallel but that's another discussion for some other time. Enjoy:-

The Bracewell Fast Bowling Formula by Brendon Bracewell

The Purpose of the Formula

The formula provides both Coaches and players with a measurable equation designed to improve the bowling speed for Fast Bowlers of all ages.

Most Fast Bowlers want to bowl as fast as they possibly can. For example New Zealand’s Shane Bond is only 4 – 5 kilometres per hour (kph) from becoming the first New Zealander to bowl at 100 mph or 160 kilometres an hour. Shane has to look at an improvement somewhere in his physical bowling make-up to source the extra power to generate the bowling speed to break the magic ton. My formula not only measures the 2 major factors providing the fast bowler’s power but also clearly identifies:

Where the fast Bowler loses power or pace.
Solutions for increasing the Fast Bowlers power or pace
Coaching fast bowling is a basic equation combining two key factors. These 2 key factors are (1) momentum ( RUN-UP) and (2) body power(BOWLING ACTION).

(1) Momentum is a result of the force of velocity generated from the run up. Generally most international Fast Bowlers require 20 – 30 metres to gather enough momentum to run in a balanced rhythm of between 18 – 26 kilometres per hour.

Establishing the run-up

The run-up is established simply by practising it. The best practise is to start on an empty field and to run in with your eyes closed until it feels right to bowl. Be sure you start with the same foot and from the same mark every time and keep doing it until it feels great. The most important thing is the feel so don’t settle for anything other than the’ feel great’ run-up. The feel of the run-up is everything as the feel is what bowlers refer to as rhythm. When a Bowler says his rhythm was good he actually means everything felt great. So practice running in until your run-up feels great. When it feels great and is consistently the same distance then measure the run-up from the exact starting point to where your front and backfoot have landed. Have someone there with you to mark ideally both your front and backfoot as this will give you the exact length of your delivery stride. The delivery stride length is very helpful information in the prevention of no balls. Some bowlers’ step out their run-up from the back foot and some from the front – really it is irrelevant as long as the distance is accurate to the starting mark.

(2) Body Power

The Fast Bowler must maximise the only power they have and that is THEMSELVES.

Maximising the power of the bowling action.

To teach Fast Bowlers how to maximise the power of their bodies to generate more power and thus bowl faster our bowlers must first understand how the bowling action works. We can have all the greatest coaching software in the world like the hugely impressive ‘Silicon Coach’ but it could be counter productive unless we understand what in this instance of Fast Bowling we are trying to achieve from the individuals fast bowling action. I have been coaching Fast Bowling for years and get enthusiastic responses from potential quick’s young and old when asking the question: ‘what is the purpose of getting your front arm up’?

‘Cos it will make me bowl better’ or ‘ It will make me bowl faster’ are the standard and quite correct answers, but follow the answer with ‘ But, why does it make you bowl faster and better’? The response are usually pretty vacant ‘Cos my Dad told me to’ or ‘you just do,cos bowlers always have’.

The fact is, there is a ton of information available on technique for swing, seam and basic bowling actions but very little on how to generate extra speed.


The objective of the Fast Bowler Action is to generate maximum body power to propel the ball towards an object (batsman) 20 metres distant. Therefore all their body mass

(Which is the only power they have control over) must go directly forward towards that target. The key word is toward.

The Fast Bowlers most common fault, which results in loss of power, is the body weight going downwards. Bringing the front elbow down towards the hip CREATES A DOMINO AFFECT by dragging the front shoulder with it, which simultaneously creates collapsing of the front knee.



Body power is the culmination of accumulative power generated by an effective bowling action. The formula that I have developed after years of study and observation of Fast Bowlers worldwide has actually resulted in a very simple equation. This formula can assist bowlers to achieve more pace in a measurable equation easily understood by players and coaches alike.

The Equation is: Momentum + Body Power = Speed of Bowler.

Shaoib Akhtar 70 + leverage of 90degrees = 160 kms per hour

Brett Lee 65 + leverage of 95degrees = 160 k.p.h

Shane Bond 68.5 + leverage of 86degrees = 154.5 k.p.h

Darryl Tuffey 67.5 + leverage of 61degrees = 128.5 k.p.h

To understand the equation you need to understand the following factors that add meaning to the equation.


The levers are the arms. The leverage the Fast Bowler requires to generate maximum power is 90+ degrees of rotation.

Greater leverage is created from keeping the front shoulder up throughout the loading stage of the bowling action until the front foot is planted securely. This loading for maximum leverage will result in more power being generated through the torso and shoulders prior to the ignition phase. See diagrams below for leverage examples.

90degree 80degree 70degree 60degree 50degree
the momentum which Brendon Bracewell is taking about is maintained by Drop step Fron foot block as encouraged by IAN

HERE Brendon gives us very important clue why we use rasie our front arm up i mean non bowling arm

Apparently Brett Lee is a whole foot (30cm) lower when he bowls the ball because of the drop step.

How did Darren Gough generate so much pace?

USSAMA - I am aware of Brendon's attempted formula but sadly it tells us not very much at all about HOW to generate that body speed other than the front arm and a run up. This is the same stuff Dennis Lillee has been using at MRF Pace academy for 19 years.

I have a fundamental problem with the front arm shortening JUST for the sake of it as we all know a LONE lever is far better than a SHORT one for power generation. The SPEED of the lever is important too, so 'pulling the elbow in' sharply may not actually do that much if it just stops there.

I feel that the vast majority of coaches just copy what they have heard over their life and there are a few like Lillee and Bracewell, who attempt to explain a small fraction of bowling with one or two 'tit bits'. But personally, the HOW TO generate pace int eh body is never explained and it's what got me on my 18 year journey to try and produce a blueprint.

The problem with fast bowling is that we are human and all different, meaning there is no DEFINITIVE but rather a series of guidelines. The simplistic Bracewell formula tells us very little about how to coach fast bowling and more about identifying who is likely to bowl fast. But then of course a speed gun can do that for us.

I am a bit confused about how to make your leverage bigger. Can anyone please explain this?


I had to disagree that is guaranteed - far from it.

1. Pulling the elbow in did not help Harmison to stablise on release as an obvious example, and he bowled 'past 12 o'clock' with his wrist, which out side his body width

2. A locked front leg comes from locking it out.. and nothing to do with the elbow. That suggestion is quite remarkable.

Some bowlers who bought into the violent elbow drive down and in, like Simon Jones, ended up making knee injuries worse IMO. Pulling down hard on that side never helped him.

I do feel 'theories' should at least have some base of actual fact. The front arm pull down is important but not quite in the way Bracewell and Lillee are saying... again in my opinion.

ANON - Range of motion (the distance travelled) is the most important thing. If you are going to power hit for example, you hit with FULL ARM extension and not shortening it. You want to keep the range of movement as large as possible, as fast as possible and sequenced in a line.

If you shorten the range, you may make it quicker but NOT more powerful. If you think of basic physics, leverage with a long lever will create more force than a small lever.

Coaches confuse the length of lever with the speed of it.

Ian how do you get your momentum going forward?

@Ian In regards to the amount of drop step, isn't there a risk that the more you collapse the knee beyond a certain point, the more you risk ending up with a bucket stride. This is basically what I read in the article. Would this apply to cricket?

@Ian,so the front arm load should not bent at elbow from loading to driving it backward . It should go as straight as possible correct me if I'm wrong.As per the article by usmaan I disagree that you should not start driving your front arm untill you land your front foot. Watch brett lee for example

ANON - pull your non bowling arm back and it pulls your bowling arm forward because they are connected.... TRY IT

ALEK - I did say 45 degrees on the front leg and if that is locked out you can almost work out how large the delivery stride is. The bucket stride (too large a delivery stride in javelin where the thrower loses momentum and cannot 'get out of the bucket') doesn't overly apply to cricket with good ground speed (fast feet).

At 45 degree front leg angle you are not in bucket stride territory anyway if the leg is locked. BUT if you collapse the front leg you sink lower and get a bit 'stuck in the crease' As soon as the front leg goes, your weight stays down and cannot get out of the crease.

So the bucket stride applies more to a bend FRONT leg and slow ground speed. If you have good entry speed into the block and a locked out front leg it should never be an issue.

DEV - The pulling down of the front arm is one of the trickiest timings to get. I think Lee goes a fraction early. here is Cath Dalton showing the PERFECT timing (waiting for front foot impact):

If you think logically, it is better to pull down your front arm against a stable base. This means waiting until at least front heel or foot has impacted to give you that base before you start pulling. This fraction of a delay also allows your hips to drive the action slightly harder BEFORE you pull and transfer the power from the legs.

Lee is tremendous, no doubt about it and the best role model we have on this subject. But he's not 100% perfect. No one is.

@Ian, is it okay if my back leg knee goes on bending(before the front foot landing) but my front leg knee remains straight ? My right leg knee is lower than the front leg knee which is braced while delivering the ball. And at times there is difficulty in driving my body at the batsman. I'm very curious to know because it puts tremendous pressure on my front knee and ankle and it can ruin my career. Ian please help me out,I need your advice.
Shoaib akthar in this video fully straighten his front while in midst of delivery stride we should straighten our elbow .so with both arm acting as long levers which creates stretch reflex along with drop step front foot block we can bowl extremely faster.
IAN feel free to comment on this straightening of front elbow

I've noticed in Steyn's follow through he doesn't lift his back leg's knee up high and was wondering if this is good or bad or doesn't matter

USSAMA, DEV, ANON - fast bowlers have their own way of doing these things. BUT if you stretch and contract muscles in sequence, with a full range of motion, at high speed in a straight alignment, then you will max out the speed. You will also be accurate. Length - is simply when you let the ball go.

You guys already know the answers to the questions you are asking and when you watch this clip: you can see the 4 tent pegs, WHICH ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO GET RIGHT.

Look at what is happening here and study it hard. All the answers you seek are here.

With regard to the drop step, here is Cath Dalton doing it in a walk through drill

Softball uses a small version of it and it's worth LISTENING to what the drop step does for that sport.

IAN thanks a lot for all these videos .Showing us these videos greatly help us in understanding the technical aspect of the bowling .By the way i wish you could become bowling coach of Pakistan Cricket Team OR the head bowling coach of NCA of PCB.i gurantee every Pakistani that you can with your coaching methods produce many Shoaib Akhtars and 100mph would no long be magical barrier.
cheers Smiling

IAN i would also recommend you to coach throwing mechanics for fielding purpose because i feel that many people are doing this wrong and a cricket australia study also revealed that a lot of first class cricketers are suffering from elbow injuries .they don't know the correct throwing mechanics.
like your course how to bowl fast faster you can name this another one how to throw harder and farther.Smiling

Thanks Ian, much appreciated

Sorry everyone.. this is Cath doing the Drop Step drill into the block

USSAMA - always available for 2-3 week workshops at International Level

Thanks Ian.

@ Ian while delivering the ball, head should be in the line of the front foot or should be before the foot. because I observed catherine dalton and brett lee @ 12:48 doing it just before the foot.

@Dev The further you can get your chest infront of ball release, the better.

@Ian I am 33 and just getting back into club cricket after 10 years, I tried the Drop Step front foot block drill, I have a couple of questions:

1. Is it normal for first timeers to have lower back pain and knee joint for a week after a 30mins drill?
2. Do you "drop" the back legs only after plating the "blocking" foot firmly?
3. Do you "push off" the blocking foot as you deliver or does it stay planted until you release the ball

Does a bowlers head moving off to one side reduce pace or accuracy or both?


1. With your front leg being braced there is greater impact on the knee definitely and it will take some time for your bones to get used to the stress. I find it important to do one leg drills to strengthen and stabilise the legs and this will help your knees to cope with the stress in the long run. Have a look at this at 2:28, that is one useful drill.

2. With the back foot, the back foot collapses as you get into front foot plant, so essentially by the time you plant your front foot, the beg leg has already collapsed.

3. The front foot stays planted throughout the movement that is crucial. I don't think there is any actual pushing of the front foot, the momentum from the run will carry you through the action and into the follow through.

Do you think that it is completly possible for a bowler between the heights of 5 ft-6 and 5 ft-10 to be able to generate speeds of 160 with very good biomechenics and power?

I think it's possible for anyone who is fully grown

Malcolm Marshall was not a very tall bowler, yet he had some pace on him. And his action wasn't technically spot on.

Anyone got any tips on releasing the ball with perfect seam position while angling it for either an inswinger or an outswinger?

Mr Pont, Iam from chennai and i have a slingshot action and can clock 140's regularly using stalker gun.My hip rotation is good but not immense..My question is if I increase my shoulder-hip seperation,do you think i can increase my speed further?...




I have recently had a back injury in the non bowling side and have found the reason for this a mixed action. My lower half is side on and my upper half is front on. Which half should I change? Thanks for any responses.

Hi Fellow Pacemen,
I have a tip to improve your accuracy while Bowling Fast.When Bowling imagine that you are bowling within a brick wall on both sides.Keep both the arms and elbows together.While Delivering Keep your head still and focus on the line and Length.Make sure you get a clear picture of the Batsman,then Follow through straight towards your Target.

Happy Fast Bowling,
All The Best

Change your upper half. It is easier and side on actions are better looking and get more out swing.

how did mohammad amir bowls so quick he was also a front on bowler

bowlers like ishant sharma , peter siddle , morne morkel they didnt drag there back foot and there front leg is also not braced.. but they all can bowl over 150 kph

I'd like to use the drop step front foot block but I'm worried I'll injure my knee. Any tips?

Hi Alex,
Refer this To Prevent Injury
it's best to exercise and strengthen the knee ligaments through dynamic and isometric exercises such as free squats (no weights) and wall-chair

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